Dear Dr. Fox:
I am hoping you can help me understand this cat behavior: I adopted two female cats nearly 3 years ago. They were about 8 months old. I was told they were sisters.
I noticed Leeza was the dominant one. Sissy would let Leeza eat some of her treats if Leeza finished first. Leeza did not want to be approached and was very skittish.
Sissy would follow me around like a dog and was very vocal, greeting me when I came home and sitting on my lap when I watched TV. Leeza would stretch out on the floor with her legs in the air and mew quietly. But when I approached her, she would run off.
Recently, after reading a book about cat personalities, I decided that when Leeza stretched out, put her legs in the air and mewed, she probably wanted me to pet her. I crawled slowly toward her, and she allowed me to pet her and very much enjoyed it.
Now Sissy is not following me around, won’t greet me at the door, acts standoffish and hides in another room. She is eating less.
Leeza has become my shadow and is the vocal one, constantly stretching out on the floor and mewing for attention, while Sissy is off hiding somewhere. It is almost as though there was a shift in personalities.
I feel bad for Sissy. I have petted them both when they are near one another, but it is as though Sissy is a dejected cat. Tell me what more I can do to show both of them that they are loved equally.
B.L.C., the District
DF: What you describe is something very feline in terms of how cats react to attention. You can call it jealousy, competitive social dominance or displacement.
Encouraging your cats to interact playfully with a lure on a string or grooming them in turn might help bring the triangle of your two-cat family and you together.
My e-book “Understanding Your Cat” might give you other helpful insights that cats have taught me over the years.
Dear Dr. Fox:
Snoopy, my brother’s 11-year-old beagle, is ailing. A year ago, we were told he had an inoperable tumor on his heart. But after a lot of TLC, he revived, recovered his energy and became like his old self. It appeared his tumor had shrunk.
But now he is lethargic again. He hardly has the energy to go outside or walk to his pillow bed on the floor. He sleeps a lot, will eat when fed directly and occasionally drinks a little water. Family members pet him gently for long periods, and this puts him to sleep. When he wakes up, he is perkier.
Are there some foods (or better still, liquids) you recommend to make him as comfortable as possible? Because his tumor shrank before, I wonder whether it could shrink again.
DF: Strange things can happen with various cancers when the immune system kicks in and is supported by good genetics and good nutrition.
There is a movement gaining momentum for human and animal cancer patients that recommends going on a high-animal-protein (meat, eggs, poultry, fish), high-fat (fish, flax and coconut oils) diet with lots of variously colored fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants, all blended together and fed raw or lightly cooked.
Always move gradually to any new diet, therapeutic or otherwise, and provide probiotics and digestive enzymes. In addition, supplements such as canine resveratrol; vitamins A, E and C; coenzyme Q10; magnesium; and selenium might help. Some holistic practitioners also prescribe the amino acid L-arginine and various anti-cancer mushroom formulations.
Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.